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Why Gluten Free for Me? Reasons I Deleted the Wheat!

It’s been just over a month since I cut out wheat and gluten in my diet, and went low carb. If you read the veryyyy first post on my blog, you will have some idea of the health issues that made me decide to try going gluten-free. I will say up front, that I have not been formally diagnosed with gluten intolerance or celiac disease (and I have noticed in the food intolerance/health community, that some people really frown on self-diagnosis. To this I say, OH WELL!) I made a simple experiment with my diet to eliminate something I felt might be toxic, and the results were nothing short of miraculous. I am not about to start eating wheat again so that I can be diagnosed formally, when I already know that the treatment IS abstaining from wheat. Even if there was a drug to take instead, I would still choose to be gluten-free.

Here are some results I have experienced during the past month:

  • Immediate relief (within 2 days) of abdominal bloating that made me feel much more comfortable, and clothes fit better (same with husband).
  • Joint pain and inflammation 90% gone, within 3 or 4 days. I had been experiencing shoulder, hip and knee pain that had been worsening for a couple years, and often interfered with sleep and exercise (my son also experienced disappearance of joint pain).
  • Decreased appetite and craving for sweets and carbohydrates (same with husband) after the first couple weeks.
  • Haven’t had a headache bad enough to take Motrin in a MONTH, when I used to take it up to several times a week for headaches that could last 3-4 days
  • IBS symptoms lessened, but not gone. (Currently researching other possible causes for issues, such as low stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes, or other food intolerances.)
  • Lost 10 lbs over the course of the month (and my husband did as well.) I didn’t start with the goal of losing weight, but I am thrilled that I have! 

In my mind, there isn’t much that’s more personal than the choice of what we put into our bodies. To make any thoughtful decision to eat a thing or not to eat a thing, is taking responsibility and accountability for our own health. As a society, we have given over a large part of these critical choices to a fast food and processed food mentality, which has speed and profit in mind, not health and wellness (which is the point of eating in the first place.) Nutrition is sacrificed for convenience, and at a price so high, that our health as a nation is likely worse than it has ever been. Good thing the pharmaceutical industry has our back with all those handy-dandy (side-effect laden) medications!

Obviously, I have a lot of misgivings about the current state of our food industry, and that is for reasons too numerous to detail. As a family, there are some changes we were able to make immediately, and there are others that we are working on sourcing out in an affordable way, such as locally farmed beef and poultry. (I have no plans to become vegan or vegetarian, however, I do strongly believe in humane treatment of animals during their lifetime in addition to skipping all the chemicals.)

In the past weeks, I have done endless research about the effects of gluten, and how to eat healthfully without grains, and I will continue to do so, and occasionally share my findings here. I will say though, that the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, is an EXCELLENT starting point to regaining health and wellness through properly feeding the systems of the body. His book is a compelling combination of personal experiences and scientific data that went a long ways towards explaining to me WHY I felt the way I did, both before and after. The reason I say that his book is brilliant as a starting point, is that for many people, wheat is likely to be the largest, quiet toxin in their diet, and once it is eliminated, it makes room to pinpoint further issues without wheat muddying the waters, so to speak. The results vary from person to person, as we are all unique in our make-up and history, but I believe strongly that the majority of people could find benefits from going wheat free. I have seen that many people discover other intolerances and sensitivities as well as deficiencies in certain bodily systems as they begin to get clean, and I am in the process of investigating these things for my own situation.

When I read opinions and consider factual studies, I also take into consideration whether the person or agency has any benefit to be gained by convincing people that what they are saying (selling) is valid. Critical thinking plays a large part in my personal research, and it pays to question things and seek out a variety of resources, especially those that are contrary to each other. In doing this, I have found that those who are opposing the health benefits of whole grains, aren’t out to make a profit from this point of view, they are trying to give people the power to make informed decisions and break addictions! If the author of Wheat Belly, Dr. Davis, was only out to make money by selling copies of his book, he wouldn’t have such an informative blog where he takes a personal interest in the people who post and query him about this topic. Instead, it is obvious that he has in mind helping to open peoples’ eyes so that they are able to regain their health.

While I am doing my best to live up to the dietary recommendations in Wheat Belly, I know that I am not the gold standard with the recipes and foods that I post, but I am sharing what types of things we are eating in my home, in the hopes of helping people who need a few new ideas, or are even possibly overwhelmed by the task of eating differently. I consider recipes from many sources, some gluten-free, some traditional, some Paleo… while other postings are just a peek into the way I cook at home, and some of the methods I use in my kitchen. I urge readers to play with the recipes and adjust them to your tastes and dietary needs, as there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” plan for health and wellness. I am thankful for comments and “likes” from the blogworld, and enjoy the sharing and positivity that is happening here!

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Go Ride a Bike! And a Note of Thankfulness~

It’s been a long time since I’ve had the energy to ride a bike! I know that sounds completely lame, mostly because it IS. But the daily joint pain from the unknown wheat-intolerance really did a number on my body, and my mental state as well. Being free from wicked wheat for barely 2 weeks, and I am ready to RIDE!

I couldn’t resist the slightly retro look of this bike, along with what I think of as the the Black Cherry/Vanilla coloring. But the thing that really won me over (other than a reasonable price point) was the shocks in front AND on my seat post! Like many women, finding a comfortable bike seat was akin to finding a dentist that you look forward to seeing. A myth that didn’t seem to exist for me! So far so good with this one though, and I’ve already enjoyed a couple 5 mile rides with my guys down to the local park and around the neighborhood. It’s really quite exciting! I know that there are plenty of die-hard bike enthusiasts who will snark at my paltry 5 mile outings, but I am thrilled to have the energy and even more thrilled to be pain-free even after riding!

Staying on track with relevance to eating well and feeling well…. I splurged on a front basket which snaps on, and can be removed with the push of a button. I can’t wait to take it to the Farmer’s Market when the season begins, so that I can fill it up with fresh veggies, local honey and artisanal cheeses.Yeah Baby, yeahhh!

And I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my wonderful husband for being so supportive, and urging me to buy the bike when he saw that I was serious about feeling well enough to use it. He really rocks in so many ways! I wish that everyone was as fortunate to have a built-in support system, because it really does make all the difference to me. He was also the one that urged me to “write baby!” He has always loved my cooking whether it was normal fare or now the gluten-free variety, and he has also always tried to prod me into writing down my recipes, which I was far too distracted and/or lazy to do. I just feel bad that it took me so long to get on board with it!

So, no recipe today (since I have been eating left-over soup), just a celebratory post of feeling well, and being thankful that I found one of the keys to improved health for myself. I wish that I could reach out to every person that is feeling chronic joint and body pain, and convince them to simply TRY going wheat and gluten-free for a week, and see if they feel better. If you don’t, no biggie, but if you do…. go ride a bike!

 

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Soy Sauce is Made of Wheat? You bet it is, Cupcake.

(Most soy sauces are, at any rate.)

In many products, the wheat and gluten is obvious. In other things… not so much. I have always used soy sauce in my marinades and with sushi, and I had no idea whatsoever that it contained wheat. This means that other products that use soy sauce may also contain wheat. Marinades, seasonings, salad dressings and some snack foods contain it as well. We were quite surprised when a package of beef jerky listed wheat as an ingredient! My son asked me why on earth they would put wheat in beef jerky (not just from the soy), and the fact is that it is used as a filler in a wide array of products. Wheat is cheap compared to other ingredients, and it makes other things go further. It might also explain why some of us feel awful when we were nowhere near a bowl of pasta or a slice of bread!

I was able to find GF (gluten-free) Tamari soy sauce online pretty easily at Amazon and Vitacost, but my local stores didn’t have it. I did find it in a neighboring town at Kroger, in both regular and low-sodium versions, and at a reasonable price.

If you usually buy prepared marinades, don’t despair, homemade marinades are a cinch, and usually taste a lot better too! So in honor of GF soy sauce, here is a combination of ingredients that I use as a wonderful marinade for meats. I say combination because honestly I do NOT measure when I put these things together, however I realize that not everyone feels comfortable using that method in the kitchen. For those that need measurements, please note that my quantities are approximations and that I just tweak it ‘til it tastes the way I want it to.

Asian Steak Marinade:

¼ Cup GF soy sauce
Juice from ½ lime
1Tb Olive Oil (walnut oil or sesame oil is nice too, though the flavor is stronger)
1 tsp Molasses (or honey)
1 Tb grated fresh ginger (I keep my gingerroot in the freezer, and just grate it as needed)
¼ tsp Cayenne pepper
1 Tb or so freshly minced Cilantro
1 or 2 thinly sliced scallions or a clove of minced garlic
Freshly ground pepper to taste
½ tsp of toasted sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients thoroughly, and pour over steak or chops, let rest at least 15 minutes, and grill or broil as usual.
This should make enough for 2-3 steaks or chops, just adjust the ingredients if you have more to marinade.

I want to stress that I really do just “wing it” and use a base and season it up from there. Soy sauce, some sort of citrus or vinegar for the sour, a touch of good oil, a touch of sweet, a touch of heat, and some herbs and spices, and you are good to go. I tend to use what I keep on hand, and that may differ from your kitchen, so if you don’t have exact ingredients, don’t let that stop you!

 

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And The Cupboards Are Bare!

OK, that isn’t true, but it WAS true for a day or so! Last Thursday, I spent the entire day going through every nook and cranny in my kitchen where food is stored, and weeded out all the products that contain wheat and/or gluten. It was stressful, eye-opening, and cleansing all in one go. While I did pull several items out of the fridge (mostly condiments) and the freezer (processed meats), the vast majority of the casualties came from the pantry cupboards.

If you are considering changing the way you eat (for any reason), and your whole household is on board, I strongly suggest taking the ruthless approach to editing your food supply. It wasn’t easy, however the end result was that now there is no confusion, and everything remaining in our house is fair game! That is a definite bonus when it comes to enabling the guys to be able to eat when I am not there whipping up something in the kitchen. There are still some things that are better for us than others, but there isn’t anything left that will cause the bloating, fatigue and body pain that we were experiencing mere weeks ago. Yay! (It is still a bit of a marvel to me that the constant body pain I was feeling for months on end have reduced by about 90% in just a couple weeks. From what I understand, wheat causes inflammation of the tissues, and that is the reason that so many people experience a relief when it is removed from the diet.)

One thing that was immediately apparent is that the processed foods have a LOT more packaging! So many boxes of pasta, cereal, snacks, baking mixes that had to be taken out and donated! It was amusing that each of us had something in the pile that we wanted to hang on to: Cheez-It crackers, frozen waffles, Dragon Sauce.

I think the next post will be about the lurking gluten I discovered… stay tuned!

 
5 Comments

Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Gluten-free, Wheat-Free

 

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Start at the beginning!


I was going to reconstruct my revelation and relate how I came to make this choice, but I decided to just start at the beginning and quote myself from a post that I made on Dr. Davis’ Wheat Belly blog. My original post was made on March 27th:

Dear Dr. Davis,

I am a newbie to the whole concept of going wheat-free, and I am very hopeful that it will have positive results for me. I am 42, and have struggled with the paradox of having good fitness, yet being moderately overweight my entire adult life, wearing a size 16 at 5’7”. I don’t have diabetes or celiac disease (that I know of), but recently I have struggled with extreme fatigue and brain fog in a way that I never have before. I have a wonderful husband and a 13 year old son, and have just finished 2+ years of full-time college to get a degree. I had been chalking up my tiredness to stress, but I really do believe that it is something deeper and more basic than that! I have also dealt with IBS and chronic headaches since I was a teenager (with no known cause, was only ever given scripts for pain killers, which I won’t take), and it affects my moods and makes it tough to deal with normal life events with a positive internal attitude at times… even though people that know me, may not be aware of that because I try to remain outwardly positive and supportive. The last several months, I have started having pain in my knees, hips, and shoulders and feel that it just doesn’t make any sense for that to be happening! If truth be told, I have been pushing down this vague but persistent feeling that something is simply “WRONG” with my health for several years now. I am a big believer in natural remedies whenever possible, and have always worked to keep my family eating a healthy diet, while not overly restrictive; it focuses on veggies, lean meats, “healthy whole grains”, fruits and moderate dairy and fats.

Well, I had gone to a party with friends on St. Patrick’s Day, and it’s the kind of gathering where you see people that you only see once or twice a year, at certain social events, yet enjoy speaking with. There were several people who were touting the benefits they enjoyed from going gluten-free, and there was even mention made of the Paleo diets and so forth. I guess that it was just the right message at the right time, because this time it resonated with me, and I made the decision to look into going without gluten. I am so tired of being tired! I started looking up blogs and websites, bought some specialty flours and starches to be able to do gluten-free baking, and felt that it was really something that I could get on board with, to eliminate the gluten and feel better.

So I have been off of gluten just over a week… then I stumbled on your Wheat Belly book this past weekend when stopping at a bookstore to buy a children’s book for my grand nephew’s birthday party. That was Sunday. I read the entire book yesterday, I couldn’t put it down. I am a research-driven type of person, and all the science behind the evils of today’s wheat really rang true with me, and made sense. (I have long been a supporter of GMOs having mandatory labeling!! Let us speak with our wallets, please!) My husband is 100% on board with me, and we are going wheat-free together, cold turkey, no exceptions, we don’t want to eat what is called “wheat” anymore! I know that there will be some challenges, particularly with eating out and social events, but I know we can get creative. The rice flour and potato starch, sorghum flour, and xanthan gum that I purchased will just have to be saved for rare occasions, or go rancid, ha, because I can see that it is NOT a solution when the goal is to improve overall health and drop a little of the wrong kind of weight in the process.

From stopping gluten a week ago, I can already tell the difference with reduction of joint pain, and am looking forward to many more benefits to come from changing our lifestyle and eating habits to low-carb as well as wheat-free. I want to run around telling people about what I have learned, but I am going to wait a month or so, so that I have at least anecdotal evidence of my own to share.

It’s ironic to me that pretty much ALL NATURAL REMEDIES are relegated to only having anecdotal evidence to support their success, because it is NOT in the best interest of anyone who makes money on a large scale, to fund studies to show that we shouldn’t buy what they are selling! I am not a conspiracy nut, but the time has come to call a spade a spade… I think most people know that the system is flawed (if not outright corrupt) and that we are not being given advice that is good for US… it is good for THEM. The addiction to wheat (and sugar), just like the addiction to cigarettes, keeps people in jobs both in the production of the products and in the treatment of the diseases caused by their consumption. What a downward spiral!

I am just thankful that my eyes have been opened about the grain formerly known as “wheat!” I can start with myself and my family, and go from there. Thank you Dr. Davis for being brave enough to say what needs to be said and for providing a forum for people to share experiences!

I know that not everyone will share my views of the food industry (that’s OK!), and that people who decide to go wheat-free, do it for their own varied reasons. While this blog is my place to consider, research, share and rant, I do not claim to know it all, or want to convert anyone to my way of thinking. I view life as a journey, and I am learning as I go, along with everyone else. It is far too early to say whether this food choice will be a success or not, but my gut (literally) tells me it will be transformational! I also want to add that my 13 year old son has also made the choice to go wheat-free… and yes, it was of his own free will, ha. (That will definitely be a topic of an upcoming post, because he has different nutritional needs than my husband and I do.)

Thank you for reading, and have a beautiful, whole-food day!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Gluten-free, Wheat-Free

 

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